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Michael J. Coles papers, 1971-2017

Identifier: SC-C-008

Content Description

This collection consists of many various records and documentation pertaining to the professionial and political career of Michael J. Coles from 1971 to 2017. Included are paper documents such as correspondence, clippings, and publications, as well as audiovisual material and various artifacts. Subjects covered in this collection are Michael Coles' bid for the United States House of Representatives in 1996, bid for United States Congress in 1998, ownership of the Great American Chocolate Chip Cookie Company, ownership of Caribou Coffee, and world-record bicycle racing during the 1980s.


  • 1971-2017

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research. Archival materials may contain sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state “right to privacy” laws. Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals without the consent of those individuals may have legal cause for action if facts concerning an individual’s private life are published that would be deemed highly offensive to a reasonable person. Privately donated materials may carry restrictions imposed by deed as a condition of donation and require the permission of the donor or donor’s agent. The KSU archives does not itself waive such restrictions, nor will it act as an advocate for any researcher seeking such waivers. KSU archives staff have taken care to identify and, in some cases, remove sensitive information found within its archival collections when undertaking archival processing work. However, privacy protected information may be revealed during use of the archival collections, particularly in those collections that are unprocessed or have been minimally processed. Researchers agree to make no notes or other recordation of privacy protected information if found within the archival collections, and further agree not to publish, publicize, or disclose such information to any other party for any purpose if found within the archival collections. Researchers agree to indemnify and hold harmless Kennesaw State University and its officers, employees, and agents from and against all suits, claims, actions, and expenses arising out of use of archival collections held by the Kennesaw State University Archives.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law. Permission to publish, reproduce, publicly display, broadcast, or distribute this material must be secured from the repository and/or copyright holder.

Biographical/Historical Information

Michael J. Coles is an Atlanta business executive, serial entrepreneur, education advocate, philanthropist, respected public speaker, and the namesake of the Coles College of Business at Kennesaw State University. During his 19-year career in the clothing business, he launched two clothing businesses, and then in 1977 he co-founded the Great American Cookie Company in Atlanta. Shortly after, he was nearly killed in a car accident and was told he would never walk without assistance again. He began bicylcing as a rehabilitative sport and after many years it had progressed into more than just a hobby. He won three world-record titles in bicycle racing during the 1980s. Selling the Great American Cookie Company to Mrs. Field's Cookies in 1998, he became the CEO of Caribou Coffee Company in 2003.

His commitment to community service led him to run for the House of Representatives against Newt Gingrich in 1996 and the U.S. Senate against Paul Coverdell in 1998. Later, he chaired the Georgia Film Commission, served on the University System of Georgia Board of Regents, the Kennesaw State University Foundation Board, and has also been involved in a wide variety of other nonprofit philanthropic organizations. In 1995, he became the namesake of Kennesaw State University's Michael J. Coles College of Business. In 1998, KSU awarded Michael with the Beta Gamma Sigma Medallion of Entrepreneurship and in 1999 he received an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters.


28 cubic feet (19 record cartons, 1 artifact box, 1 photo storage box, 5 oversize flat boxes, 2 document cases)

Language of Materials


Immediate Source of Acquisition

Michael J. Coles

Physical Access

For preservation reasons, and sometimes lack of necessary equipment, physical access to original audio and visual media in a variety of magnetic and optic formats is restricted. Access to all original media, especially in obsolete formats, will require production of listening or viewing copies. Please contact the Archives in advance to request access.

Maggie Thomas
2019 October 8
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
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Revision Statements

  • 2020 July: updated by Maggie Thomas

Repository Details

Part of the Kennesaw State University Archives Repository

1000 Chastain Road
MD 1704
Kennesaw GA 30144 GKJ